By Rebekah Johansen
Sometimes, an example comes along that shows, more clearly than we could explain, the rampant hypocrisy so common when it comes to Pentagon spending.
House Armed Services chair Buck McKeon (R-CA) is a relatively reliable defender of irresponsible Pentagon spending and waste. (We at the Coalition recognized his achievements by naming him our annual Spending Villain.) He’s on record supporting a $79.4 billion Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) slush fund, without cuts or oversight.
But today, as news breaks that the White House’s OCO request will be marginally lower, at $60 billion, Chair McKeon seems to have undergone a miraculous change of heart.
From a press release today [emphasis ours]:
“Once again I have learned important details of a major decision by the Department of Defense by reading it in the press instead of hearing it from Secretary Hagel. This trend seems to be getting worse and I hope that the Secretary of Defense will soon find a way to reverse it.
“The administration delayed this proposal for over four months and now appears to be in a rush to deliver it to the Hill with little detail on how the Department would spend the money.
“Congress is not a rubber stamp. The Armed Services Committee will examine the proposal closely, once it is actually transmitted and details are provided. I have a number of questions that will need to be answered as our Committee considers this request.
Despite the rhetoric, a rubber stamp is exactly what Congress has been functioning as on the OCO for quite some time. And McKeon, thus far, has seemed quite content with this arrangement. It’s rather telling that spending cuts seem to be the only thing that make him advocate reform or oversight.
McKeon might not grasp this concept, but the fact of the matter is that whether it’s $60 billion or $79 billion, Congress and the American people deserve real answers on how our money is being spent.